Long rumored to be arriving, the Chevy Malibu has now, finally, arrived! It is yet another car to be mused over by import crazed Brazilians. It comes in LTZ guise with a 2.4L gasoline-only engine that’s good for 171 ponies. It comes mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission that allows manual shifting. And it’s loaded to the gills (at least by Brazilian standards) with 6 airbags, ABS, stability control, automatic A/C, and even (by gosh!) electrically-adjusted and heated seats, remote start key, 18 inch aluminum wheels and, last but not least, an audio system with CD and MP3 with 8 speakers (according to Bestcars). All of this for a princely 89,000 Brazilian reais or $49,900 (at 1.8 real to the dollar).
No, I won’t go there this time, but, but (sadly, there always seems to be a but or two)…
Why now? Isn’t the new Malibu coming out in 6 month’s time? Is GM foisting leftovers on hapless Brazilians? Will GM send slightly banged-up stamping tools to make this car in Brazil, liked in the bad old days? Or is GM just testing the waters, and if we bite, will they bring the new Malibu to Brazil? Is GM doing this only to increase foot traffic at dealers at a time when the new Fiat Uno is grabbing all the attention (see my next article for more on this)?
There is a market for this kind of car in Brazil. Ford’s Fusion and Hyundai’s Azera sell about 800 of each every month. But, GM seems late to the party, and wearing clothes that look like hand-me-downs. Is GM counting on Brazilians being so disconnected that they don’t know anything and will buy this car like there’s no tomorrow? Will the hapless Brazilian consumer be stuck with a car with a run of a year or less and all the attendant difficulties in terms of parts, depreciation, etc.?
So, GM will bring this car for a year or thereabouts, and then substitute it with the new one? Or abandon the market yet again? And, again, sacrifice their good name in the Brazilian market? Tell me, how is this good for GM? Is GM willing to tarnish their good standing in the big car market in Brazil just for the sake of flipping some leftovers?
So many questions. Does this make the Malibu a questionable car?
The mind boggles. And the lights seem to be out at the RenCen.